A Simple Guide to Opening a UK Bank Account

Many new clients ask me to recommend a UK bank account for their company.  My advice is that whilst most clearing banks are pretty much the same in terms of what services they do (or don’t) offer, it is the person within the bank and the relationship they strike up that will set them apart.  Other things to consider will include: –

  1. What interest rates are charged?
  2. How close is the nearest branch?
  3. Does the bank allow you to use the telephone for things like checking the balance or paying bills?
  4. Very important – does the account have an option to use an internet service?
  5. Does the account offer foreign exchange accounts such as Euros or Dollars?
  6. Is the internet service international?  That is, does the internet option allow you to access all services whilst you are overseas?
  7. Do you require an overdraft facility?
  8. Does the bank subscribe to the banking code?

Don’t be afraid to ask bank staff about their products and services, especially about anything that is not transparent or you do not understand.

On application most banks, if not all, will require the following as an absolute minimum :-

  1. A established permanent address in the UK for all directors/signatory’s to the account,
  2. The Certificate of Incorporation,
  3. A copy of each director/signatory’s passport and valid visa (if applicable),
  4. Proof of address in the UK such as a utility bill (not mobile telephone), council tax demand or a tax notification from HM Revenue & Customs.

As mentioned the above is an absolute minimum, the bank may ask for further documentation to satisfy its own credit criteria and Money Laundering Procedures.  The process of opening a bank account in the UK should take around two weeks to process, provided you have all the right documents available.

But what if you do not have an established permanent UK address?  Well, it may still be possible.  If your business currently banks with say HSBC in your Country of Residence, for example Spain, then I would suggest that you apply to open a business bank account in the UK with HSBC.  You see it may be acceptable to the bank for your Spanish branch of HSBC to verify your credentials to the UK, thus allowing HSBC to satisfy its credit checks and Money Laundering Procedures.

For more information about opening a UK bank account and perhaps an introduction to a bank manager here in the City of London, contact me for more details.

Tony Mann – Manager

Westbury Accountants and Business Advisors is an accountancy practice based in London. Westbury have been providing Accounting and Tax solutions to small and medium sized businesses since 1936. Talk to the team at Westbury on 0207 253 7272 or visit http://www.westbury.co.uk.